This thing looks badass!
I never knew Chip had a hand in designing the original Plymouth Prowler...
From the Detroit News
Jerry Garrett / New York Times
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif
. -- The Detroit auto show this month will be a coming-out party, of sorts, for the car customizer Chip Foose.
"I've been to the show before, many times of course," said Foose, in an interview from Foose Design, his company here in this beachside community. "But my role has never been publicly announced. This time it will be."
Foose will be in Detroit to unveil a special edition Ford F-150 pickup for which he had free rein to reinterpret the design. This follows the recent debut of a similarly conceived Foose Mustang. The Mustang, which is being manufactured at a rate of 80 a month, has been sold out at Ford dealerships, he said.
Foose, the rare customizer actually commissioned by a manufacturer to produce a special edition model to sell at its dealerships, likens himself to others who have put their stamp on cars, like the performance maestro Carroll Shelby, who created the new Ford Shelby GT500, and the Eddie Bauer retail company, which put its name on Ford SUVs.
The Mustang's initial success seems to have given him the opportunity to do more with Ford. He was in Detroit last week meeting with the company to discuss developing more products.
Foose's contribution has been in design only, but he said future Foose vehicles would likely have performance modifications -- that retain Ford's warranty coverage -- as well.
"There are a lot of opportunities there, too," he added.
Foose, 43, was still a student in 1989 when a hot rod design he sketched caught the eye of Chrysler's design staff. Foose's creation led to the Plymouth (later Chrysler) Prowler. That made him something of a prodigy in the design community, and his ideas have led to some industry-changing models for customizers. The past couple of years, he's been the star of "Overhaulin'," a Learning Channel show on which older cars are picked at random for a full-body makeover. He recently announced, in addition to his Ford collaborations, a partnership to produce a limited run of the Hemisfear, a more faithful rendition of his original Prowler design -- and this time it will have a Hemi in it.
"They just chose the wrong motor," Foose said of the car, which was sold with only a V-6. "They just didn't capture the heart of the enthusiast with a V-6. If they had put a V-8 in that car, it would have been an incredible selling vehicle." Instead, the Prowler remains something of an automotive novelty.
The Prowler's fate raises the question: Does the mainstream auto industry really care what he and others in the surging customizing industry are doing?
"I believe they do, because you can look at what is happening in the auto industry, with the rebirth of the Mustang, the Challenger coming back, and the Camaro, and that's the heart of this country: the muscle car theme," he said. "There's interest in re-imagining these cars."
Beyond that, Foose has had a sub rosa design role with automakers. He will admit to participating in the development of Ford's Legends series cars, like the Thunderbird, the Forty Nine concept car and the Ford GT. But he is bound by confidentiality agreements from citing specifically what his contribution was.
"I can't publicly say that I 'worked on' those cars," he said. "But I was 'involved with' the design team in bringing back some of that heritage."
Foose acknowledged that not everybody likes retro-themed designs.
"I know a lot of people have been beat up for doing this retro thing," he conceded. "I don't believe it is retro. I believe it's evolutionary. I think it's cool that the designers today are looking at the rich heritage that they have."